Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold rebounded from his first NFL pass attempt, a pick-six, by throwing for two touchdowns and leading New York to a season-opening 48-17 rout over the Detroit Lions on Monday at Ford Field.
Darnold completed 16 of 21 touchdowns and threw touchdowns to Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, becoming the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for multiple touchdowns in his NFL debut.
His first pass attempt was exactly like how Brett Favre and Jameis Winston's ended up: intercepted and returned for a touchdown. After scrambling out of the pocket, he threw across his body intended for Bilal Powell, but Lions defensive back Quandre Diggs jumped the route and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.
From there, however, the 21-year-old Darnold, the youngest player to start in Week 1 since the AFL-NFL merger, was strong.
On the ensuing drive, he converted a crucial third-and-6 with a 12-yard pass to Neal Sterling on a drive that ended with a punt. Then he got to work, as the Jets scored on three of their next four possessions at the end of the first half.
The first drive ended with a 6-yard Isaiah Crowell touchdown run while the second ended with a field goal. The Jets got the ball back at their own 49 yard line and threw a 41-yard pass down the left side to Anderson that gave New York a 17-7 lead with 1:51 remaining.
After the Lions tied the game on the first drive in the second half, Darnold and the Jets scored 31 unanswered points, beginning with a six-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 21-yard touchdown to Enunwa, who was playing in his first game since 2016.
The Jets' defense and special teams turned the game into a rout, as Darron Lee returned a Matthew Stafford interception for a touchdown and Andre Roberts ran a punt back 78 yards for another score to give New York a 38-17 lead.
But Darnold was nearly mistake-free in the second half. Even on their last drive of the game, a 12-play, 27-yard drive that ended with him kneeling the ball down, he completed a 17-yard pass to Terrelle Pryor on fourth-and-3 to further run out the clock.